Sunday, 12 February 2012

Some reasons why everyone is talking about Pinterest.

Pinterest is the hottest website around at the moment. The company launched back in March of 2010 and quietly gathered traction until the last quarter of 2011 where it has attracted the masses and grabbed global attention. Time listed it as one of its top 5 social media websites of 2011.

Described by some as a social network or a social commerce site and by others as a social bookmarking site, i suppose it is all of those and more, but the company describes itself as a "virtual pinboard" that lets you organise and share all the beautiful things you find on the web (or in the real world). Users can browse and create online bulletin boards for categories such as Art, Diy and Crafts, Food and Drink, Travel and Places amongst others. User demographics are 80% women versus 20% men, aged between 25-44 (55% of group, 30% are aged 25-34 and 25% are aged 35-44 ). Most popular amongst its user base are recipes, wedding items and other topics like humor and photography. Although more recently due to the sites global attention, more men and brands are signing up for the service, so the current demographics will change dramatically in the coming months.

(Credit Pinterest)

Facebook have recently added the Pinterest app to it's functions (along with 59 other new apps) and is certainly a contributing factor to its phenomenal success. Thus enabling Facebook's 845 million users to share content like their favourite food, recipes, clothing, music and much more to their Facebook page. Currently there are about 2.7 million who are logging in to Pinterest via Facebook.

Lets take a look at some more information and stats doing the rounds on the internet. Shareaholic a leader in the content sharing field reports that Pinterest is referring more traffic than some of the big boys, Google+, Linkedin and YouTube but to name a few.
(Credit Shareaholic)

Pinterest's user base grew from 1.2 million in August 2011 to over 4 million in  December 2011. Comscore reports that the site is the fastest independent growing site EVER, with 11.7 million unique visitors in January 2012 making it one of the top 10 social networking and forums websites.

This infographic below from Monetate shows how Pinterest has become a big player in the social commerce referral world. It raised $37 million in funding last year and has an unconfirmed valuation of around $200 million, so it is a site to take notice of. All of this and almost 2 years after it's launch you can still only sign up by invite only!

(Credit Monetate)

Undeniably the figures speak for themselves, Pinterest is on fire at the moment but can it keep it up? Well i think the answer is yes, Pinterest will soon be releasing the API for developers to build on top of it and venture capitalists are eager to invest in new start-ups looking to monetise off the back of it. Retailers are starting to flock to Pinterest as brands are able to set prices for products they have on their pinboards (much like a product catalogue), which in turn is driving a lot of traffic back to the retailers site.
Although it means that Pinterest is not fully capitalising on that, however they are generating some revenue by adjusting and tracking links attached to user generated pins. It uses a service called Skimlinks to add affiliate marketing links to products. Skimlinks has a network of affiliated retailers, so when a link is clicked and directs the user to the retailers site and the user make a purchase, the retailer will pay a share of the revenue to the affiliated network, who then pays the publisher. It is a very common and widely used tactic for publishers of sites looking to monetise their content, much the same as banner ads and texting programs.

Some brands are seeing huge traffic driven to their sites from Pinterest, such as American company which has seen a rise of 446% in traffic over the last 6 months.

Want to jump on the bandwagon? Create your own pinboards and start pinning your favourite items.

How do i get started on Pinterest? i hear you say!

You don't need an account to view peoples boards, but you do need to sign up for an account to become a member to pin and create your own boards. So to sign up head off over to and "request an invite" by filling out the request form (for instant access you can login through Facebook or Twitter).

If you have requested an invite, you will soon receive an email inviting you to sign up for an account, click on the link in your email and sign up by creating your profile. The main features on Pinterest are:

(Image Credit: Kerry Jones on
A Pin is an image that can be added to Pinterest from another website using the "Pin It"  button, or you can upload an image from your computer (or mobile phone if you have the Pinterest App installed).

(Credit Kerry Jones on
A Board is a set of Pins and a Board can be created on any topic, such as weddings and events, cool people, or beautiful images captured in photography. There is no set limit to the amount of pins in a board.


(Image Credit: Kerry Jones on 

(Image Credit: Kerry Jones on 

To Repin is to find an image on Pinterest that you like and repin it to one of your boards and add your own description to it. When you repin someone else's image the original pinner will also get credit, as repins always maintain the original source link.

If you Like a Pin it doesn't save to any of your Boards but just adds the pin to your profile's Like section.

To Follow means that you can either:

1. Follow the user of a Pin
2. Follow the Board of that Pin or
3. If it is a Repin you can Follow the original pinner.

If you sign up using Facebook or Twitter to login then you will see which of your friends are already using Pinterest.

When you want to Share a Pin click on the image and it will open up a larger box and to the right of the image is where you can share via:

  1. The Facebook "Like" button
  2. The Twitter "Tweet" button
  3. Embed the link on your website or blog
  4. The email button

(Image Credit: Kerry Jones on 

You can Comment on any Pin by either hovering over the Pin and clicking the Comment button in the top right corner of the Pin box or by clicking on the Pin and commenting on the large pop up box.

Now you've learnt the basics head over to Pinterest and learn more...

Once you've joined and created your profile, let me know what interesting stuff you find on  there? Tell me what you think of it or leave me a link to your Pinterest profile in the comments below.

I'm just getting started over there myself, you can find me at

Happy pinning everybody :)

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Scanning a QR Code will take you to another dimension.

Have you seen any of these black square boxes around recently, have you wondered what they are?

Well for those of you who don't know what it is, it is a QR code otherwise known as a two-dimensional barcode or 2D barcode.

Scan My QR Code To Get Daily
Marketing News And Updates.
So WHAT is a QR code? QR stands for "Quick Response" which basically means they can be scanned and decoded at high speed. They have been around since 1994, and were originally created by Denso Wave (a subsidiary of Toyota) to track motor parts, but only since the adoption of Smartphones have they found their true potential in the mobile marketing industry.
Many businesses large or small and across a multitude of industries are using them to bridge their offline print marketing efforts with their online marketing campaigns. 

Today QR codes are all abuzz and are being used almost everywhere. An article by Chantal Tode of Mobile Marketer reports that in the US 2D barcodes used in magazine advertising rose by 617% in 2011, and recent research by Charterhouse found that 51% of their marketers plan to use QR codes in the next 12 months. Scanlife the worldwide leader in mobile barcode scanning apps, reports that 2011 saw a 300% growth over 2010 and a massive 1000% growth over 2009. In Q4 of 2011 there were more scans than in 2009 and 2010 combined, they also signed up 3,000,000 new users in the same quarter. 

QR codes are scanned with a users smartphone camera but require a barcode scanner or reader to decode it (If your smartphone doesn't come with a reader pre-installed then you can download one at QRPal, i-nigma or Scanlife).
Once scanned the user could be taken to a calender event, a persons contact information, an email address, a location on a map or perhaps a URL link. The web link could be to a video of a new product on your website, a new game, or how to video. Maybe it could take the user to your online sign up page, or one of your social networks such as your Facebook or Twitter page.
Above is my QR code and when scanned it will take you to my Twitter page, where you'll find me tweeting about new developments and technologies that can be used in the marketing world.

Below are just some interesting ideas and some real life uses for QR codes across a variety of industries. 

Any Business: 
  • Business Cards: Scan for a persons contact information and save to your contacts list. Can include name, company address, telephone number, email address, company website.
Film Industry:
  • Movie Rental: Attach one to the DVD outer case and once scanned a trailer of the movie is played. How many times have you got a movie home only to find that the film wasn't what you expected. 
Entertainment Industry: 
  • Concerts: Bands are using QR codes to direct users to their website where fans can purchase the bands latest music CD, buy merchandise like t-shirts or watch videos of previous events. Others are directing fans to their social networks where fans can interact with the bands in real-time, how cool to be able to watch a live video from behind the scenes or even chat live to the band.
  • Festivals: Direct users to a map so they can find their way around the grounds.
Retail Industry: 
  • Mobile Coupons: Your out shopping at your favourite store and you notice that the item you like has a price tag with a QR code on it, when you scan it you get a mobile discount coupon to redeem at the point of sale.  
  • Store locator: You see an advertisement in a magazine, scan the barcode and it takes you to a map of your nearest store and opening times, which in turn uses your smartphone's GPS to find your location. 
Food and Drink Industry: 
  • Restaurants: Put them on your food menu's, when the user scans the QR code it could take them online to images or more information about the food they want to order. It could be nutritional information, even when dining out customers are still counting those calories. Or maybe if you have a family of diners in, the barcode could direct the user to a game for the kids to play online, so they don't get bored whilst waiting for their food to arrive. Would you like to see your food being cooked perhaps, scan to watch your food being cooked live via a webcam link.
  • Wine Producers: Include them on your label and direct the user to your website where they can watch a video of the wine production process. Or scan to purchase and reorder more cases direct from the supplier.
  • Delicatessen: You can even wear your QR code as part of your social media marketing  plans. Print one on your t-shirt or your apron and direct the user to your business's Facebook or Google+ page.
Hospitality Industry:
  • Hotels: When your guests have checked into their room they will want to know what is available to them at the hotel or in the locality. Instead of having the usual bunch of leaflets and brochures in the room, just leave a postcard with a QR code on it and instructions how to scan it. Once scanned it could direct your guests to the hotels mobile concierge service. Restaurant and bar opening times, menus, interesting things to do and see nearby or if they want to go further afield taxi rank numbers.
Automotive Industry: 
  • Car Sales: In your print marketing include a QR code that directs users to your web page for a video or images of the car that you are selling. Maybe you want to grow your mobile marketing database? Include one on your direct mail flyer and when scanned it could open the users text messaging feature, with a keyword and shortcode number already pre written ready for the end user to send and opt in to your mobile marketing campaign.
Real Estate Industry: 
  • Estate Agents: Imagine a couple of house hunters are searching for houses for sale in a particular area of town that they like, there's this one that catches their eye, on the "For Sale" sign there is a QR code and when they scan it, it takes them online to images and more information on the property. All this without contacting or even visiting the estate agent, but if they like it that much they can call you for a viewing. 
The list of uses for QR codes are endless and i will touch on them a bit more in future posts. Remember be creative, use them in all your marketing campaigns online and offline and give the end user a great experience. We've listed some important tips to help you achieve that great user experience, and that you should apply to your QR code marketing campaign.
  • Since QR codes will be scanned by a Smartphone make sure that if directing the user to a web link, it is optimised for mobile viewing. If it directs to a full desktop website it will almost certainly be slow to load and hard to navigate, the user will have a bad experience and will probably not return.
  • When printing in magazines or placing on any surface, remember that it must be on a flat surface and in close proximity to the users smartphone. eg not on the centre seam of a magazine, or out of reach of the user etc.
  • If you can, make sure there is wi-fi connectivity for the user, especially if you are using QR codes at live events.
  • Make it easy for the user, don't send them round the houses to get to point A. Keep it simple!
  • Test, test and test again before you release your QR code campaign to the masses, make sure that you are happy with your experience scanning it.
If you've scanned a QR code before, why did you scan it and was the end result worth it? I welcome your comments.